Super easy Thai chicken noodle soup can be ready in as long as it takes to boil noodles!
Chicken noodle soup is super easy to make. Thai chicken noodle soup ratchets the flavor up a significant amount. But there’s one little cheat code that makes an easy soup SOUPER easy!
(Sorry for the pun. I couldn’t help myself.)
This is my riff on the Thai soup tom kha gai or coconut chicken soup. It’s a highly aromatic soup thanks to the ingredients, which are the key to the enhanced flavor. The addition of noodles helps bulk up the servings, but you can leave them out if you prefer to go noodle-less.
Chicken soup is known the world over. It likely has curative properties. My mom calls it “Grandma’s love soup” because she makes it for all of us kids (the grown up kids, our spouses, the grandkids, basically EVERYONE) when we’re sick, and cures us all with love. She also always put spaghetti noodles in it.
Carbs are the best comfort food!
There’s only one little problem: chicken soup requires boiling the chicken. Even standard tom kha gai calls for this.
I cannot stand boiled chicken. Even when it’s cooked with love, the flavor of boiled chicken is somewhere between meh and just plain ugh.
To avoid that, you can brown the chicken before adding it to the soup. Brown food is good food, after all. Because browning adds flavor! But it also adds time, and this is about lessening the time in the kitchen. Cheat codes, right?
A roasted chicken will do the trick. You don’t even have to roast your own chicken, especially if you’re doing this in the summer when turning on the oven is a no-go. Simply buy a rotisserie chicken at your local store!
That’s the cheat code: pre-cooked chicken. Make sure you have some on hand before making this soup and you’re golden!
Whether you decide to buy a rotisserie chicken or roast your own, you’ll have to break it down and shred it. Do this while the broth is simmering. Then throw it all together once the noodles are done and voila! Dinner is ready.
The rest ingredients for this soup should not be too wildly difficult to find at most grocers, especially those that carry Asian products. Fish sauce, coconut milk, and lemongrass should be readily available in just about any grocery store.
Kaffir lime leaves might be more specialized, though they are very popular in Thai cuisine. If you have an Asian grocer in your area, they should carry this product. If you cannot find them, you can substitute it with the zest of regular limes. According to Food Subs:
One tablespoon of zest from a lime is equivalent to about 6 kaffir lime leaves.
So for this recipe, you’ll want about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of zest in place of kaffir lime leaves. Since you need lime wedges anyway, simply pick up an extra lime or two.
Lemongrass is another popular ingredient in Asian cooking. If you’ve never used lemongrass before, there are a few tips to working with it. The outer stalks are thicker and woodier. Remove them and the tops, you only use the tender middle part.
You also need to bruise up the lemongrass a little bit for it to release its natural flavor and aroma. You can do this with a knife or lightly with a mallet. This video has a lot of good tips for working with lemongrass (and starts at 2:24, showing the proper preparation for this particular dish).
If you cannot find lemongrass, then lemon zest can work in its place. Again our friends at Food Subs suggest:
lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon = 2 stalks lemon grass) OR lemon verbena OR lemon balm OR lemon leaves
It’s not quite the same though, especially if you can’t find the kaffir lime leaves. Amazon can probably deliver both!
Finally, for noodles, you can choose whatever you want. Use rice noodles for authenticity and a gluten-free dish. I used brown rice noodles for this version since that’s what I had on hand. But if you have a hankering for spaghetti or vermicelli instead, then you do you.
The first time I made this, I cooked my noodles separately. But to truly cut the time on this, I suppose you could cook them in the broth and make this soup even faster! This will likely add more starch to the end product, resulting in a slightly thicker soup.
I highly recommend using a large stockpot or Dutch oven for this soup. It makes 6 large portions, especially with the addition of noodles. Another nice piece of equipment if you have it is an herb infuser for simmering the lemongrass, ginger and lime leaves. This makes draining the broth so much easier!
Pick one up here:
Cheesecloth or muslin will work too.
In the end, you’ll have a chicken noodle soup that smells great, tastes delicious, and will also hopefully fill you with love. All in just about 15 minutes!
Super Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Herb infuser
- 2 stalks lemongrass outer layers removed
- 1" ginger peeled
- 10 kaffir lime leaves
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 pounds rotisserie chicken shredded
- 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 package rice noodles (or your choice of noodles)
- Chili oil or paste
- Cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges
- Trim off the root and leafy ends of lemongrass.
- With a mallet or back of your knife, lightly smash the lemongrass and ginger. Then cut the lemongrass into 4" pieces.
- Put the lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil (use an herb infuser if you have it). Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain out the solids.
- In a separate pot, cook your noodles according to package directions.
- While the noodles are cooking, put the shredded chicken and mushrooms into the broth and warm through.
- When the noodles are done, drain.
- Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar to the broth and stir to combine.
- Add the cooked noodles.
- Serve hot topped with chili, cilantro, and lime wedges. Squeeze the lime into the soup.